Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Think. Learn. Pray. Plan. Dream. For soon… you will become.

Think. Learn. Pray. Plan. Dream. For soon… you will become.

“We need to get a little perspective.” Said Jones. And thus unfolds the best literary work I’ve had the privelege to read in the last 12 months. I like to think I read a lot. I read for a few different reasons. Most to educate myself and to expand my thinking on subjects usually related to my faith. For some reason this usually steers me away from picking up fiction. However, this time I reasoned I would pick up The Noticer for a quick read and promptly review it for my commitment to Thomas Nelson.

It was a typical quick-read fiction work… until it taught me more than any work I’ve read recently.

It was unexpected in every way. But around every corner author, Andy Andrews, has a little nugget of wisdom planted that, if embraced, has the ability to change a life. Andrews seemingly picks apart many of the times we broken humans can “lose perspective.” In doing so, he offers something for anyone.

A few of my favorites are as follows:

“I think it’s amazing… That a person could lose everything, chasing nothings.”

“Most people spend so much time fearing the things that are never going to happen or can’t be controlled that they have no energy to deal with the few things they can actually handle.”

“After all, the seeds of depression can’t take root in a grateful heart.”

“Your very breath provides authentic and infallible absolutes that cannot be disputed.”

I could fill the next five pages with little one-liners that were page-stoppers. Andrews is knowledgeable, biblical, well thought and extremely well presented. Page after page provide one “Ah ha moment” after another. This being the case, I found it impossible to read this book without a pen and someone to tell about it.

So, if you are going to read one book this year, let it be this one. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Put yourself in the characters shoes instead of “them”. Learn that whatever you focus on, increases. Learn to think. Learn to Pray. Learn to Plan and learn to dream. For soon… you will become.

Justin Vance

Sunday, January 04, 2009

The American Patriots Alamana: Review

Per my commitment to Thomas Nelson I’ll review “The American Patriot’s Almanac”. This work was authored by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb then released in 2008. As always I’ll attempt to be honest with my critique and provide both strengths and weaknesses of the work.

I have received much enjoyment from a book I honestly expected to be dry and boring. I had poor experiences in most of my history course through school and didn’t expect much more when I picked up The American Patriot’s Almanac. I received a finance degree and, although I have always loved history, have always underappreciated it. However, Bennett and Cribb do an excellent job of connecting the important events that have shaped our country.

I find it consistently interesting to think through what happened, sometimes long ago, on the particular day I’m reading. For example, today a reader will learn about Elizabeth Ann Seton and her incredible story as the first American-born saint. Also in bullet points listed below the selected story of the day one will see that, on this day, January 4th, Utah became the 45th state, a robotic rover named Spirit landed on Mars to explore the planet and Nancy Pelosi became the first female Speaker of the House.

Its organization and ability to transform historic fact and date into “mystic chords of memory” that connect us to our country are The American Patriot’s Almanac’s standout strength. The only weakness I would consider would be the selection of the highlighted stories. As I read through the helpful bullet points listed below I would at times find them more interesting than the selected story.

Overall, I highly recommend The American Patriots Almanac. It is vital reading for all who would consider themselves grateful for the country they were born into and/or are a part of.

The book is beautifully bound and is a perfect gift. I’ve had several comments on it as it is displayed on the coffee table in my living room. Several guests have picked it up to see what happened today in American History. It’s proved to be a really nice conversation piece.

Well written, much needed and a valuable selection.

Monday, December 08, 2008

The Truth About You: A Review

I’ll be reviewing here The Truth About You by Marcus Buckingham. I first came across this online and read the bio and was immediately drawn in. He comes across as a very practical thinker who is very application oriented. As a young professional I assumed this book was a perfect fit for me.

For my review I’ll break things down into three sections; The good, the bad and the comments.

The strong points of this book lie with Markus himself. He is an incredible communicator. I know this because included in the book is a very useful DVD of him speaking. His demeanor and style immediately capture his listener allowing him to effectively communicate his very applicable ideas. The book is an easy read as it reads just like he speaks. Once you watch the included DVD you can hear him speaking as you read.

The other major strong point of the book is the application. The main exercise involves carrying a provided notepad around for two weeks noting every situation that makes you feel a specific way. I highly recommend this as I found it very useful. It allows for the book to have the full affect Markus intended.

My only drawback to the book is its depth. I would like Markus to take his reader to the next level. The Truth About You is a very good, quick read. Thus, as I spend time thinking through what I read I can’t help but think what he could have accomplished with another well written 100 pages.

Conclusion: I highly recommend this book. It is very much, well worth the two hours it will take you to read it and the two weeks it will take to carry around the notepad. After reading I can quickly identify 3 very personal strengths and 3 weaknesses. This will prove to be very useful information for a variety of situations one comes to in life.

Well written. Very useful. A bit on the surface, but highly recommended.

Preview the book: http://www.thomasnelson.com/consumer/widget.asp?sku=1400202264

Monday, October 20, 2008

Racism in America

This is hard to swallow. I saw this run on CNN a few days ago and now it's on their front page. Call it what you will, but it obvious, by-definition racism.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The enemy...

Found this today as I was reading. I thought it applied both to myself and to those around me and was therefore worthy of passing on to you.

It's from Chris Walke

"I don’t believe that anyone here really believes that Clinton or Obama or McCain or Huckabee is really our Enemy. We’re more intelligent than that. However, it is often difficult to avoid getting swept up in our passions at a time like this election year when so much inflammatory dialog is exchanged… We can easily get caught up in the Us vs. Them mentality that our political affiliation seems to promote; if you are not with us, you are against us. We can easily lose our perspective, and these days in particular when we are about to elect our country’s leader it is crucial that we do keep our perspective - a perspective based on the Bible, on the declarations and commands of Jesus, on the accomplishment of Christ risen."

"If Christ is your Savior, then he has forgiven your sins and promises to declare you righteous before the Father. Does that mean you no longer sin? Of course it doesn’t. Why? Because our own wickedness - the sinful nature that we inherited from Adam - has not left us. It lives in us, and it will be a part of us until the Lord returns and raises us… Until then, that sinfulness, that wicked nature, is something we carry with us wherever we go. We bring it into our homes. It influences how we raise our children. It sleeps with us next to our wife or husband."

"We cannot go to our politics to identify our enemy. For that, there are only two places we must go: the Bible, and the mirror."

Thursday, December 13, 2007

When I'm ashamed to be a Southern Baptist

Read the story here: http://timmybrister.com/2007/12/11/when-i-am-ashamed-to-be-a-southern-baptist/

Absurd... but true

I look for a course of action, but i fear there are none.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Steriods: Who's to blame?

So Barry is in big trouble now. Someone is throwing allegations that he somehow used steroids to double his physical size at 37 years of age and break sacred home run records. I was terribly surprised and didn't know how to handle myself, really.

But my question is: Who is to blame for this? Our kids (well not "my kids" but figuratively speaking so...)are being influenced by a "role model" who shouldn't even be influencing a Flintstone character.

I think this started way before bonds, though. I don't think he is solely to blame for the steroid problem in sports today. We have to look back further and deeper into our cultural roots for that.

I think we have to look here!

That's right folks. Mario is to blame for our problems in sports today. You don't agree? Let's look at the very visible evidence!

He needs to grow a little bit to overcome an enemy? What is his remedy? Go train and practice and do it honestly and naturally? NO! He simply bangs his head on a block and consumes one of these!

Then he magically transforms into a larger, more powerful version of himself. It is absolutely ludicrous.

What kind of example is this setting for our children?!?!

So, it is only natural for poor little Barry to follow his own personal role models when he needs to grow a little bit.

I bet poor Barry was influenced at a young age. Here is the worst evidence of all!

What are we going to do?